The shop clerk implores customers to stop treating them “like punching bags” over the lack of masks on sale.

Japan is a country known for many weird and wacky things, but something that consistently impresses visitors is the high level of customer service. Especially compared to some countries where you’d be lucky to get even a grunt of a greeting from the shop clerk (as someone born and raised in the UK, I can personally attest to this), Japanese customer service consistently goes above and beyond.

In English, the well-known phrase is ‘the customer is always right’, but Japan takes it one step further with ‘Okyaku-sama ha kami-sama desu’ or ‘The customer is god’. And while many customers will go about their business quite peacefully, there are always those who will act like total jerks towards well-meaning members of staff.

With the recent spread of coronavirus, shops all over Japan are experiencing mask shortages as customers rush to buy them in bulk. This in turn causes frustration and, according to Twitter user @0tehura0, abusive behaviour from some customers. @0tehura0 has clearly had enough, and posted this on Twitter –

“A request from a mask sales clerk

I understand your frustration that masks are unavailable, but there’s not much that those on the shop floor can do about it. The sales clerk is not an outlet to release your stress, nor are they a punching bag. We are only human and there is a limit to how much we can take. Thanks for your consideration.

@0tehura0 includes a text image in their post, explaining their frustrations further.

The fact is that we don’t know when new masks will arrive, we aren’t able to reserve masks, and there’s a limit to how many masks each customer can buy… so don’t insist we tell you when more masks are coming in. Don’t try to buy more than the limit. Don’t intimidate or threaten us. Don’t get aggressive with us because of the lack of masks.

If we had masks to sell, we’d put them out for sale. If we knew when more masks were coming in, we’d make an announcement. We’re getting the same inquiries and abuse hundreds of times every day. Try to put yourselves in our shoes. The sales clerks are only human, and we’re at the edge of our mental limit. If we don’t have any, we don’t have any.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a shareholder, or you’ve been a loyal customer of the store since its opening. You are not special. The world does not revolve around you. Think about the people who actually really need a mask.”

Twitter user @mikaitabi added their thoughts to the discussion.

“According to a manager of a foreign-affiliated company, Japanese customers are quite unforgiving when it comes to the quality of products and services, and this means they may end up being quite selfish customers, as they are used to getting what they want. ‘The customer is always right’ is all we know. Maybe we need ‘customer training’ instead of ’employee training.'”

It’s true; Japanese customers are pretty unforgiving when it comes to poor customer service. But in this instance, is it really fair to consider this a case of bad customer service, or just bad customers? Is it fair to take out your frustrations on someone who is trying to do their best?

Other Twitter users added their thoughts on rude customers:

“The customer is not god (they might be a god of destruction or a plague god though.) The staff are not slaves.”
“At times like these, you can see a person’s true colours. You can’t hide that even if you buy a mask.”

Perhaps the next time you’re in your local convenience store, spare a thought for the poor store clerk who has probably had a rough day, especially if that store is out of masks for sale. And if you want to see a real example of poor customer service in Japan, check out this video of the worst Amazon deliveryman in Japan.

Source: Twitter/@0tehura0 via Hachima Kiko
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Pakutaso (1, 2)
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